Dr Helen Finch (University of Leeds) will be giving a talk entitled W. G. Sebald's Literary Capital: The Sebald Effect in Holocaust Literature?
W. G. Sebald’s work focuses largely on history, memory, and decay around the theme of the Holocaust and post-war Germany. Initially, it was received both as something new in literature and also something linking to the past, which harks back to the high modernism of Kafka and the melancholic realism of Adalbert Stifter.
Thirteen years after Sebald’s death, his work is no longer a novelty, though to the English-speaking world it continues to be a posthumous revelation. In this lecture, Helen Finch will explore how Sebald’s work has accrued cultural capital and has served as a paternal model for a host of new writers such as Teju Cole and Will Self, whom one might dub ‘Sebald’s sons.’ She will question the gender of literary paternity and literary generation, and share ideas from her own monograph Sebald’s Bachelors, to analyze how Sebald avoids reproducing the destructive patriarchy of German society.
Dr. Finch's monograph on queer masculine identities in the works of W. G. Sebald, Sebald's Bachelors: Queer Resistance and the Unconforming Life, appeared with Legenda in 2013. She has published widely on W. G. Sebald, H. G. Adler, Günter Grass and contemporary German literature. She is currently working on a book project entitled Holocaust Literature in German: Canon, Witness, Remediation. She is a co-investigator on a series of projects linking researchers in the UK and South Africa working on trauma, reconciliation and reparation in the aftermath of German Nazism and Afrikaner nationalism. In addition, she is a co-investigator on a major AHRC Care for the Future research project, Performing the Jewish Archive.
A reception will follow the talk.